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"PONYO"
(2009) (voices of Frankie Jonas, Noah Lindsey Cyrus) (G)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Mild Mild Moderate Moderate None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Moderate Mild Mild None None
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
None None Heavy Moderate Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Drama/Children's: A 5-year-old boy cares for and ultimately comes to love a goldfish princess who yearns to be human despite the objections of her father.
PLOT:
A goldfish princess (voice of NOAH LINDSEY CYRUS) runs away from her undersea home and becomes stranded on an island shore, stuck in a glass jar. Sosuke (voice of FRANKIE JONAS), a five-year-old human boy, rescues her and names her Ponyo. Distraught that his daughter has gone missing, Ponyo's wizard father, Fujimoto (voice of NEESON), casts a spell on the ocean waves to search for her. The waves ultimately find Ponyo and reclaim her.

A heartbroken Sosuke tries to go on with his life. He goes to pre-school while his mother, Lisa (voice of TINA FEY), works at a local nursing home where the elderly ladies fawn over him whenever he visits. Meanwhile, Ponyo resists her father's efforts to keep her under the sea where he thinks she belongs. With the help of her sisters, she breaks free and uses her own powers to make herself human.

This causes an imbalance in nature and results in an enormous typhoon that returns Ponyo to Sosuke, but throws the human world into jeopardy. In the storm's aftermath, both Sosuke's mother and father -- a boat captain named Koichi (voice of MATT DAMON) -- are feared missing. It is up to he and Ponyo to find them, deal with Fujimoto's wrath, and pass a test administered by Ponyo's sea-fairy mother (voice of CATE BLANCHETT) to put the world back into harmony.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Absolutely. Small kids will identify with Sosuke and Ponyo's sense of play, adventure and discovery. Older kids who have grown up on the fancy digital animation of Pixar and Dreamworks may take a while to warm to the whimsical, hand-drawn animation. But most of them will likely be won over within the first 15 or 20 minutes and draw pleasant comparisons to "The Little Mermaid" and "Finding Nemo."
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: G
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • FRANKIE JONAS voices a good-hearted, 5-year-old boy who lives on a densely populated island in the Pacific. He rescues a goldfish princess trapped in a jar, befriends her, and ultimately comes to love her when she takes on human form.
  • NOAH LINDSEY CYRUS voices a headstrong goldfish princess with magical powers, who runs away from her father and her undersea home to explore the world. She ultimately desires to become a human, a decision that throws the world of fantasy and reality out of balance.
  • TINA FEY voices Sosuke's mother, who works at a nursing home and takes care of Sosuke for long stretches while her sailor-husband is out to sea. She has a habit of driving the family car in a very dangerous manner, and she drinks once.
  • LIAM NEESON voices Ponyo's father, a powerful and often angry undersea wizard who despises humans and tries to shelter his daughter from our world.
  • CATE BLANCHETT voices Ponyo's mother, a powerful sea fairy who sympathizes with her daughter's desire to follow her heart and ultimately devises a test that Sosuke must pass to prove his love for Ponyo and bring nature back into balance.
  • MATT DAMON voices Sosuke's father, a hard-working ship's captain who is away from his wife and son for long periods at sea.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this animated family film that has been rated G. The film contains no profanity or sex/nudity.

    There are numerous scenes of peril, however, involving children that will likely prove mildly unsettling and/or suspenseful for young viewers.

    Some potentially imitative behavior is present, along with a single instance of drinking. Bad attitudes and tense family material are also present.

    If you are still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, all sorts of animated movement occurs throughout the film. Specifically, there are numerous scenes of aquatic life swimming, moving and darting underwater.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Lisa pops a beer, causing suds to overflow, and proceeds to drink it.
  • In the very next scene, Lisa is shown passed out in a semi-stupor. She subsequently is aroused and does not behave in a drunken manner. But the inference is definitely there that the beer caused her to snooze.
  • Fujimoto drinks potions he refers to as "elixirs" that augment his magical powers. The elixirs are not alcohol-based, but Fujimoto swigs them in a manner that one would swig booze from a bottle.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Sosuke accidentally cuts his finger, causing it to bleed.
  • Sosuke and Ponyo accidentally bang heads together, briefly leaving red marks on both their foreheads.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Ponyo is openly defiant towards her father, who wants to shelter her from the outside world.
  • Fujimoto actively hates human beings for their petty and polluting ways. He often mutters this distaste for people to himself.
  • Sosuke ignores a school rule and brings Ponyo with him, hiding her and her bucket of water outside the school.
  • Ponyo leaves school grounds without permission to show Ponyo to a friend.
  • To beat a drawbridge that is about to be raised so a ship can pass through, Lisa drives way too fast along a curvy mountain road with Sosuke in the car. On several occasions, her speed is so great that her car goes around corners on two wheels.
  • Later in the film, Lisa drives erratically during a raging storm, nearly hitting at least one car. She then disobeys harbor police, who warn her not to cross a particularly dangerous stretch of road.
  • Ponyo swipes ham from Sosuke's sandwich.
  • One of the elderly ladies in Lisa's care is a constant naysayer and generally takes the opposite viewpoint of her social group, even when obviously wrong.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence," "Blood/Gore" and "Jump Scenes" may be unsettling, suspenseful or scary to younger viewers and/or those with low tolerance levels for such material, but probably few others.
  • A large ocean ship dredges for litter and nearly kills Ponyo with its propeller. Ponyo can't outrun the ship's large gathering net and is subsequently caught up in the garbage and other refuse it collects from the ocean floor.
  • Sosuke finds Ponyo washed up on the shore and thinks the little fish-like creature may be dead, but Ponyo is only sleeping.
  • Fujimoto often raises his booming voice in anger.
  • Sosuke narrowly evades a series of enchanted waves conjured by Fujimoto that almost sweep him out to sea. We see the waves that mean him harm, but he doesn't.
  • Sosuke is stalked a second time by these same waves that rumble and roar. This time, he loses Ponyo to the sea, but he is spared.
  • Sosuke's teacher allows him to walk unsupervised during a driving rainstorm from the school to an adjoining nursing home where his mom works.
  • To beat a drawbridge that is about to be raised so a ship can pass through, Lisa drives way too fast along a curvy mountain road with Sosuke in the car. On several occasions, her speed is so great that her car goes around corners on two wheels.
  • Later on, a massive typhoon crashes into the island just as Lisa and Sosuke are driving home. Lisa again drives erratically, even disobeying harbor police who warn her not to cross a particularly dangerous stretch of road.
  • The typhoon threatens several ships at sea, including one carrying Sosuke's dad.
  • Sosuke almost falls off a cliff and into the raging ocean during the storm.
  • Numerous fish swim underneath a boat carrying Sosuke and Ponyo. None of them attack. They're all just background detail. But some are clearly sharks and other exotic undersea creatures that may cause some anxious feelings in very young kids.
  • Sosuke and Ponyo enter a dark and foreboding tunnel while searching for Sosuke's mother.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Bug off!" "You're so weird!" "This stupid TV!" "Jerk," "Freak show," and "This cursed door!"
  • For laughs, Ponyo spits water in the faces of several characters throughout the film.
  • Ponyo innocently spits in her own drink.
  • Ponyo leaves school grounds without permission.
  • Lisa uses a spotlight to repeatedly type the words "Bug off" in Morse code, as a ship passes by their cliff-side home carrying Sosuke's father.
  • Lisa allows Sosuke to eat dessert first during one dinner.
  • To beat a drawbridge that is about to be raised so a ship can pass through, Lisa drives way too fast along a curvy mountain road with Sosuke in the car. On several occasions, her speed is so great that her car goes around corners on two wheels.
  • As Lisa is driving in a dangerous storm, Sosuke takes his seatbelt off.
  • Ponyo runs through Sosuke's house and bangs into a glass door. She then runs and jumps atop Sosuke's furniture.
  • Sosuke lights matches without adult supervision.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • Dozens of bugs quickly scurry along seaside rocks near Sosuke in one beach scene.
  • Sosuke narrowly evades a series of enchanted waves conjured by Fujimoto that almost sweep him out to sea. We see the waves that mean him harm as they sneak up mere inches behind him, but he doesn't.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • Some mildly tense, Wagner-like music plays during the typhoon sequence, heightening the danger and suspense.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • None.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • None.
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Lisa becomes extremely angry with Sosuke's father, a ship's captain, who accepts a longer-than-expected assignment at sea.
  • Ponyo's father seeks to imprison his daughter in an undersea bubble and deny the child her dream of becoming her own person because of his hatred and distrust of humans.
  • Ponyo's father and mother have a fairly active distrust of one another, especially when it comes to Ponyo. It's never mentioned whether these entities were ever married or divorced or separated (human legal terms likely don't apply under the sea). But they are clearly not "together."
  • Sosuke's father is feared missing at sea after the great typhoon.
  • Sosuke's mother leaves him and a sleeping Ponyo home alone during the storm to go check on the elderly people she serves at a local nursing home.
  • After the storm subsides, Sosuke can't find his mother for a long period of time. When he and Ponyo find Lisa's abandoned car, they fear the worst. This causes Sosuke to cry.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Mankind's often negative effects on the environment, specifically the oceans.
  • How to deal with a parent who is away for long periods of time for work.
  • Following one's bliss, even at the expense of hurting those we love the most.
  • The constant struggle parents face between protecting their children and encouraging them to go out into the world and find their destiny.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Sosuke and Ponyo accidentally bang heads together, briefly leaving red marks on both their foreheads.
  • Ponyo runs through Sosuke's house and bangs into a glass door. She is not injured, though.



  • Reviewed August 11, 2009 / Posted August 14, 2009

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